Nest: A Covid-19 Easter Mini-Saga

by Emma Filtness

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Friday

I sit on the green velvet couch in my third floor flat staring out of the closed door to my Juliet balcony, sweltering in the sky-blue heat, and I’ve got no idea why they call it a balcony when it’s just a door that opens onto fresh air mediated by a grey metal railing overlooking the faded tarmac of a car park and the ugly Tetris-piled red brick of the building next door and I think surely Juliet must’ve had better than this as I clutch a navy can of fly and wasp killer, knuckles white, lid off and in a perpetual “position of readiness,” to quote my secondary school PE teacher, Ms Rugg (I wonder what became of her) during enforced netball training thinking they didn’t teach me this, they didn’t prepare me for this, there wasn’t a class on how to deal with wasps building a nest above the door to an invisible balcony during a pandemic and I’ve been googling all morning, clicking on hit after hit of perfect nightmare material – stalker-lens close-ups of antennae and all those legs and stripes and stingers that can be used again and again unlike bees, I wish they were bees, and pictures of round grey nests that look like paper mâché creations from a hell-dimension, and home-remedies offering wisdom like spray surfaces with peppermint oil or a mixture of clove oil and lemongrass and I haven’t even got a spray-bottle let alone the peppermint oil, only lavender and frankincense for my oil burner but there’s no scientific evidence so I panic-order two kinds of wasp killer with Prime with a dose of extremely short-lived vegetarian guilt and after check-out it tells me they won’t be here for another week as apparently they’re not “essential” and the property management team are not answering their phones as it’s not only a pandemic but a fucking bank holiday and no amount of Easter eggs will ever make this okay.

Saturday

I binge-watch Grey’s Anatomy from the beginning in an attempt to distract myself from the hive. I somehow managed to forget just how amazing Sandra Oh’s hair is, and the rest of her, to be honest, and think I finally need to watch Killing Eve soon. I’d be under the duvet ideally, but it’s too hot what with the door and window closed and the evil little shits keep nosing at the window. When I turn off the lights to sleep, I see tiny flitting shadows everywhere, but I know they are not in my room – they are inside my head. I dream of wasps, obviously.

Sunday

My partner bought me a chocolate egg, a posh one from M&S, but I managed to drop it somewhere between the bag-for-life and the kitchen worktop, and it feels like the perfect metaphor for life this Spring. I eat most of my stoved-in egg anyway and feel sick afterwards.

Monday

Brian from Rentokil called. He’s coming over tomorrow. I eat the last of my egg and a whole bag of Colin the Caterpillars. I’m on Season Two already (which is impressive, even for me).

Tuesday

Brian from Rentokil arrived a whole hour early and I could’ve kissed him, social distancing be damned (relax, I didn’t).

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meDr Emma Filtness is a poet and lecturer in Creative Writing at Brunel University London, currently zine-making and binge-watching her way through the apocalypse. Follow her on Twitter @Em_Filtness and find her poetry project exploring nature and the dark feminine @cultofflora on Instagram.

Brunel Creative Writing students win 1st Prizes in short story competitions

1st Prize Winner R.V. Maloney. Source: http://www.dorsetfictionaward.co.uk/uploads/1/0/2/0/102049858/published/shortlisteepicture_1.jpg
Dorset Fiction 1st Prize Winner R.V. Maloney

Congratulations to 2nd year Brunel University London Creative Writing student R.V. Maloney, who was awarded  1st place in the international Dorset Fiction competition for her short story ‘The Greater Crested Tern’.

R.V. wrote the story following her weekly Creative Writing coursework prompts. She will be awarded a £500 cash prize, and her story will be featured in Dorset Fiction’s yearly anthology.

The judges said, “Within a thousand words, the story is threaded with blooming motifs and detail which are in turn sewn in to a wonderfully metaphysical piece. The writer uses an interesting range of sometimes obfuscated literary devices, which bed well into the prose. The creative and multilevelled story instantly caught our attention, and continued to blossom in our minds long after reading.”

Check out an interview with the author, and read her award-winning story, at the Dorset Fiction Award website.

Photo Credit: Scarlet Page / Henley Literary Festival
Photo Credit: Scarlet Page / Henley Literary Festival

Joint Honours Games Design and Creative Writing graduate Aimée White was awarded First Prize in the 2017 Dragonfly Tea Short Story Competition.

Aimée’s winning story ‘Generation Lotus’ was written to the contest theme of Journey and was selected by a panel of judges including comedian/writer Helen Lederer, journalist and novelist Paula Cocozza, and Daily Mail Literary Editor Sandra ParsonsAimée’s impressive £1500 1st Prize in the Main contest category was announced at an Awards Ceremony at Henley Literary Festival.

You can view all the 2017 Dragonfly Tea Short Story Competition winners and runners up in the Main and Children’s categories here.

 

Calling all budding designers: Book Cover Design Competition #Horror #SciFi #Fantasy

Book Cover Design Competition
Horror, Sci-fi & Fantasy

Brunel University London’s English & Creative Writing department is developing its first ever Horror, Science-fiction & Fantasy anthology entitled:

‘FAERIES, FIENDS & FLYING SAUCERS’

The anthology features a range of English & Creative Writing students’ short stories and non-fiction writing and launches on the 21st of March 2017.

The competition for the cover design is open to all Brunel University London Undergraduate students and as well as seeing your design used on all copies of the book (paperback & ebook) you can win 10 paperback copies of the book. Plus if you’re an aspiring graphic designer it’s a great addition to your CV.

The anthology includes three distinct genres –
Horror
Science fiction
Fantasy
– as the title suggests. So let your imagination run wild!

The design needs to be:

  • High-resolution, 300 dpi .tif/.jpg format OR vector eps format.
  • Size: A5 (148x210mm) plus a spine on the left (17x210mm).
  • Please keep back-up copies of your working files so if you win they can be easily edited.

Entries must be submitted by:
Friday 3rd of February
by 5pm

to Mr Frazer Lee via email (frazer.lee@brunel.ac.uk)
AND in hard copy form in an addressed envelope handed in at the Gaskell Building reception.

Good luck & happy designing!

 

Don’t miss: Hillingdon Literary Festival

image002When: 7th-9th October 2016

Where: Antonin Artaud Building, Brunel University

What: A FREE weekend of literary performances from over twenty-five bestselling and globally renowned authors with a lively festival atmosphere.

The festival will be home to  vibrant conversations, inspiring readings, book signings, masterclasses and workshops. Some of the author highlights this year include:

Amit Chaudhuri – Celebrated novelist, critic and musician, author of Oysseus Abroad

Samantha Shannon – Internationally bestselling author of The Bone Season series.

Will Self – Professor of Contemporary Thought at Brunel University London; journalist, political commentator, literary critic; author.

Ken Livingstone – Prominent Labour Party member, former Mayor of London, author of Being Red: A Politics for the Future.

Benjamin Zephaniah –World-renowned performance poet, activist and commentator; Professor in Creative Writing at Brunel University London.

Matt Haig – British novelist. His book Reasons to Stay Alive, a memoir about the author’s experience with depression, has been chosen as a World Book Night 2016 book.

Shappi Khorsandi – Author and comedian who has appeared on Channel 4’s Comedy Gala and Sport Relief. Her debut novel is Nina is Not Ok.

This year’s Hillingdon Literary festival also features its first communitysam_1204-768x576 writing competition, with shortlisted entries published in an anthology ‘Writing Local|Thinking Global‘ and an overall winner of £250 to be announced at the event. Several of our Brunel Creative Writers are on the list so come along to support them and read their work!

All events are free, but “Weekend Ticket” reservation via the website is strongly recommended, as tickets are selling out quickly! 

More info & tickets @ www.HillingdonLiteraryFestival.com

Screening: Xiaolu Guo’s UFO IN HER EYES

What: Screening and Q&A

When: Tuesday 24th May at 5-8pm

Where: Antonin Artaud 003

As part of next week’s Brunel Festival (http://www.brunelfestival.co.uk) there will be a free screening of  Xialou Guo’s ‘UFO in Her Eyes’, a feature film about a peasant woman in a Chinese village who claims that she has seen a UFO. As a result everything in her life and that of her community undergoes a tremendous transformation. The film explores identity, feminism and globalisation.

Xiaolu Guo has created a vocabulary of her own, both visual and linguistic, that reflects her sense of bXiaolu Guoeing caught between Chinese and English, and her experience growing up during her home country’s wild transition from totalitarian enclave to the new shrine of global capitalism. An “alien” at home and in the global intellectual elite, Guo is an ideal interpreter of the sense of alienation generated by social upheaval and globalization“- Toronto Film Festival, 2011

Xiaolu Guo wrote the novel, script and directed the film and will available for a Q & A session after the screening; a great opportunity to pick an acclaimed novelist and scriptwriter’s brains, as well as see an award winning film. Don’t miss it!

“UFO in her Eyes is surrealist and ironic, but also pierced with melancholy and beau­tiful photography. With startling detail, Guo reshapes reality into a hyper-vivid portrait of chaotic contemporary Chinese society.” – Toronto Film Festival

 To learn more about the author: http://www.guoxiaolu.com/index.htm.

 

 

Calling all budding designers: Cover Design Competition

The Creative Writing department are currently beginning the exciting process of developing this years anthology ‘The Imagination Project’ which features a range of second and third year students’ stories. The anthology launches on the 15th of March 2016.

The competition for the cover design is open to all Undergraduate students and as well as seeing your design used on all copies of the book, you can win a £50 Amazon voucher and 10 copies of the book. Plus if you’re an aspiring graphic designer it’s a great addition to your CV.

The anthology includes a diverse range of work so, as the title suggests, let your imagination run wild!

The design needs to be:

  • High-resolution, 300 dpi .tif/.jpg format OR vector eps format.
  • Size: A5 (148x210mm) plus a spine on the left (17x210mm).
  • Please keep a copy of your working files so if you win they can be easily edited

And must be submitted by Monday 15th of February at 5pm to Dr Bernadine Evaristo via email (Bernardine.Evaristo@brunel.ac.uk) AND in hard copy form in an addressed envelope handed in at the Gaskell reception.

For further information on what your submission must include please check out the link: http://www.brunel.ac.uk/cbass/arts-humanities/creative-writing/creative-writing-anthology-competition/_nocache

Good luck & happy designing!

Dear Freshers,

Congratulations on your fantastic A level results, they are well deserved.

congratulations

It’s not long now until you’ll set foot on Brunel’s campus as an official student, but until then, you have the a few weeks where you’re likely to feel nervous and excited all at once. Here are a few things to bare in mind during your fresher’s experience.

freshers

1. You’re only a fresher once. I mean it lasts a whole year but that’s no excuse to rest on your laurels! Now, fresher’s week, and uni in general is what you make it, so if you want good grades you have to work for them, but during your freshers year it really doesn’t hurt to go a little bit wild. Of course, don’t take ‘go a little bit wild’ as an excuse to get arrested or hurt anyone, I mean just have fun, but stay safe. Definitely stay safe.

2. You’ll make really great friends. This is something that will happen really quickly, especially if you’re living on campus because you’re all in the same boat. You’re all away from home, all with people you don’t know and possibly wouldn’t even mingle with normally, but there’s something about halls that means you’ll have at least one good friend in there. On the first day I moved in, I was very shy and nervous, but as soon as I said hi to a couple of people I felt fine. Everyone’s going to be friendly for the first couple of weeks, and if at any point people stop being friendly/ sociable, you’ll have met the people on your course by then, and they will be great.

3. Sometimes in halls people can be noisy. This is something that you kind of have to roll with. During the day you probably won’t notice it so much because you’ll have music on, or you’ll be out or there will be that general hum of day to day life. However, (and I was very lucky with my whole building) there will be some noisier individuals. If you’re a light sleeper, I would recommend ear plugs. If you get the foamy ones you can still hear fire alarms through them so they’re okay in terms of your safety as well.

4. With that said, fire alarms happen. This is one of the least fun things that happen while you’re living in halls, and I’m not speaking from a noise perspective. In my halls, we had four fire alarms. Three were at night, while it was raining, while I was not wearing shoes. Once someone shared their slippers with me. That is as strange as it sounds. They aren’t entirely unpleasant though, I mean the whole building is outside so you can socialise for a bit. One tip though – if there is a fire alarm in the afternoon, make sure it goes on for longer than about 30 seconds because they test the fire alarms once a week, and I knew a few people who got half way down the stairs in towels after being caught in the shower…

5. Socialise. What I will start off by saying is that I came to Brunel being very shy and socially awkward, I didn’t know what to say to people, and I always assumed they wouldn’t like me anyway. That made socialising more difficult, but then there came a point where I relaxed and realised that at uni, there are very few people who really judge you, and those who do aren’t worth your time anyway. The people who do accept you and who you do get along with are worth your time and are worth socialising with. There were so many times in first year when we’d stay up all night watching films as a flat rather than going out and they were some of my absoluter favourite times and some of my best memories. Being social will do wonders for your sanity, trust me.

6. There’s more than one way to be social. Don’t think that when I say ‘socialise’ I mean go out every night and consume copious amounts of alcohol if that’s not what you want to do. If it is, fine. If not, get your flat mates together to watch a film, walk to town, join all the societies and sports teams you want to. Basically fill up your time with lots of different things and lots of different people. If sport isn’t your thing, there are so many societies, there will be one that is your thing.

7. If there isn’t a society you like, make one. It’s actually pretty easy to get a society together, if you’ve got a handful of people with similar interests and time and energy to put into it, you could have yourself a successful little society.

8. Don’t worry. Your first year of uni is about fun, and it’s about finding yourself. As cliché and wishy washy as that may sound, it’s true. So don’t worry. Of course put the work in, you got this far and let’s be honest, you’re paying for this, so definitely put the work into this. What I mean is don’t burn yourself out in your first year. Of course you want to be proud of yourself, of course you want your parents/friends/family to be proud of you, that’s natural, but burning out won’t do anyone any good. Leave that for third year when the end will be in sight.
9. Sometimes there might be pranks and practical jokes. That’s fine and it’s all fun and game but make sure A. you don’t take it too far. It’s not a joke if someone gets hurt, and B. don’t let security catch you – always have a lookout.
I could go on for ages about how great Brunel is and how much I’m sure you’ll love it here, but you’ve got some celebrating to do! Huge congratulations to you all, once again. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to tweet @BrunelWriter for things related to the course, or tweet me personally @EmphaticPanda, and I will be happy to answer any questions about anything Brunel/freshers/uni related.
In case you’re in need of it, or know anyone who is, here’s the clearing hotline for Brunel university – 01895 272273, and the webpage, should you need further information. Best of luck! http://www.brunel.ac.uk/clearing-adjustment-courses-2014 
We look forward to seeing you around campus in a months time!